Monthly Archives: March 2018

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    Governor signs bill qualifying first responders for workers’ comp for PTSD

Governor signs bill qualifying first responders for workers’ comp for PTSD

March 23rd, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from their job will be able to make claims for workers’ compensation under a bill signed today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

State law currently prohibits workers’ compensation claims based on mental conditions or disabilities caused by stress. Senate Bill 6214, sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, exempts firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians suffering from PTSD from that bar and creates a rebuttable presumption that they are eligible for workers’ compensation.

“The military has recognized PTSD as a work-caused condition and is taking steps to address it,” Conway said. “Our firefighters, police officers and other first responders are exposed to a level of trauma on the job that the average person doesn’t face, and it can take a heavy toll. We need to address it through the workers’ compensation system so that they get the support they need and deserve.”

The bill, which received wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, contains safeguards against abuse. Individuals could only make a workers’ compensation claim for PTSD if they had served for 10 years before the condition developed. Additionally, a PTSD-related claim would not be allowed if the condition resulted from disciplinary action, work evaluations, transfers, layoffs or firings done in good faith by an employer.

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    Governor signs cost of living increase for 72,000 pensioners

Governor signs cost of living increase for 72,000 pensioners

March 21st, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Some 72,000 retired Washington public employees and teachers will receive a cost-of-living adjustment in their pensions as a result of a bipartisan bill signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Senate Bill 6340, sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, gives retirees in Plan 1 of the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) or the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) a one-time, 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment effective July 1.

The average yearly benefit for a retired public employee in Plan 1 is approximately $24,576; for a retired teacher, it is about $26,136. Retirees with benefits at those levels will see an increase of about $31 to $33 per month. Increases for retirees with above-average benefit levels are capped at $62.50 per month.

“Many of these public employees and teachers have been retired since the 1980s, but their benefits have been frozen in time, even as the cost of living has gone up,” Conway said. “We shouldn’t leave behind these people who dedicated decades of their lives to serving our state and our children.”

Unlike other state retirement plans, Plan 1 of PERS and TRS, which stopped enrolling new participants in October 1977, provides no cost of living increase. In recent years, retirees on these plans have seen their purchasing power decrease while health care costs have increased.

Senate Bill 6340 received unanimous approval in the Senate and the House. Proponents initially sought a larger cost-of-living adjustment, but agreed to the lower amount in exchange for a monthly $150 subsidy to help retired or disabled public employees or school district employees who are eligible for Medicare purchase health insurance coverage through Washington’s Public Employee Benefits Board (PEBB).

The subsidy, set out in a supplemental operating budget that the Legislature approved earlier this month, is scheduled to increase to $168 in 2019.

Conway presides over Senate as vice president pro tempore

March 7th, 2018|

Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, presided over the Washington Senate on Monday as vice president pro tempore.

The vice president pro tempore manages the legislative work of the Senate when the lieutenant governor and the president pro tempore – currently Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines – are absent.

Conway was unanimously elected to the leadership position by fellow senators and sworn in on Jan. 8 during the opening of the 2018 legislative session.